As one of the most popular foods ever exists on the planet Earth, the egg has been used by humanities in many ways. The main way of usage being food, whether it’s for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Who doesn’t like waking up to the smell of some delicious eggs? I know I sure do. However, we all have this notion engraved in our minds that tells us that eggs are healthy, and offer high-quality protein. How true is that? Are eggs a good source of protein? In this article, we’ll get right to the bottom of that answer, stay tuned!
Properties Of An Egg
Head over to your fridge right now and take out an egg from the egg carton. We’re going to be taking a look at what makes up an egg specifically. If you’ve just run out of eggs or questioned the safety of them, no problem, I’ll try to make this as visual as possible. There are three parts to the simple egg, the eggshell, the egg yolk, and the egg white.
This is the hard outer layer of an egg. The size of an egg differs depending on what animal actually lays it. In the case with chickens, the average egg size is about 2.17 in x 1.6 in, not the biggest. Most of know that eggs aren’t anything special in terms of size, but for their little size, they can sure impact our diets in a lot of ways as you’ll soon see. The shell itself is made up of calcium carbonate, or CaCO, crystals with over 17,000 pores covering the surface.
A yellow squishy substance we see once we crack open our eggs. When is a chicken is born, it is formed from a little part on the egg yolk. (Fun Fact: The eggs we eat and the eggs that develop chicks come to originate from the same hen. The way we tell them apart so that we don’t accidentally see a chick in our frying pan is by seeing the yolk itself. If we see a thread looking root forming in the egg after 6-7 days, it’s safe to say it’s a chick is developing) However, we’re talking about the edible side of an egg yolk.
What distinguishes an egg yolk with an egg white, next paragraph, is the number of nutrients they hold in store. The yellow blob contains all the fats, vitamins, some protein, and the doozy, the cholesterol. When we think of an egg, our minds go straight to the egg yolk, it’s the staple of an egg is. However, there does exist the part of an egg that people can eat without the yolk, and no not the shell.
The egg white, also known as the albumen, is the white liquid that engulfs the egg yolk inside an egg. The egg yolk swims in the egg white, taking in nutrients for an embryo, if forming, to grow into a chick. The difference between the two is the number of nutrients to provide for a dietary purpose. An egg white contains none of the fats, vitamins, carbs, or cholesterol jammed packed in the yellow yolk. Does that render the white liquid useless?
Absolutely not. It provides one essential macronutrient that the yolk has very little of. Yup, it’s protein. Compared to a yolk, the egg white has 56% of the protein, more than half. This is why some people opt for buying just egg whites straight up when going grocery shopping when they strictly want protein and nothing else. They might also take the white from a regular egg and throw away or put aside the yolk, which I think is a waste.
Without the yolk, and egg taste nothing like it should since the yolk holds all the fat, the macronutrient that holds flavor. This is a scenario from which you’re substituting taste for nutrients. For me, however, I always include my egg yolk in my morning scrambled eggs to give them that desired taste. Then again, excluding the egg yolk does benefit us in a way I’ll explain in a second.
Pros Of Egg Protein
Now that you have a grasp of what an egg looks like, what it’s made of, and how people can utilize it, it’s time to start talking about some of the pros and cons. I like to be positive, so we’ll begin with the pros of what eggs have to offer to us.
A lot of people may have heard of a high-quality protein before, but aren’t exactly sure what makes a protein high quality. Two main things set aside a high-quality protein from a low-quality protein, it’s the completeness and digestibility factors. To understand the completeness of a protein, you must know a little about amino acids, the building blocks of protein. In total, there are twenty, eleven of them being non-essential, and nine of them being essential. What do I mean by that?
The eleven amino acids that we can produce with our body on our own are the non-essential, meaning we don’t have to eat those. The essential amino acids are the nine that we cannot produce on our own and must consume through dietary protein. A protein that has all nine essential amino acids is considered a complete protein. Fortunately, eggs contain all our needed amino acids, placing it on the complete side.
In terms of digestibility, protein is a hard nutrient for our stomachs to digest. It takes around 3 hours for our bodies to break it down and absorb it into our bodies. The reason is due to the long chains, protein molecules are made of, bolstered with strong links. The easier it’s digestibility, the easier it is on our stomachs. In case you didn’t know, our bodies don’t use the protein itself, it uses the amino acids it’s made up of. It tears away at protein until all it’s left is the amino acids. With eggs, it doesn’t take our stomach all that much effort to digest, giving egg protein a checkmark in the high-quality category.
Easy To Cook
Anyone who has cooked eggs before knows how easy and fun it can be. There are plenty of ways you can cook up an egg, and it can still be delicious. I personally enjoy the scrambled egg, classic, and always scrumptious. However, they’re options like the fried egg, hard-boiled egg, sunny side up egg, poached egg, or an over-easy egg. You can mix it up with tons of ingredients that make it perfect for you and still have the tons of nutrients you expect from an egg.
Seeing that an egg is pretty tiny, you’d expect that the number of calories in it would also be tiny. Well, that hunch is absolutely correct. There’s a difference in the number of calories in the two edible parts of the egg, the yolk and the white. In one large egg, the total amount of calories will be around 75 calories. The yolk holds the bulk of those calories, with about 55. We know that the yolk holds the majority of the nutrients, besides the protein, so this stat makes sense.
The white, on the other hand, is bare protein, so the calories will be kept to a minimum. The white contains only about 15-20 of the calories in the whole egg. You can use this to your advantage when wanting to lose weight, opting for the egg white. However, choosing the entire egg is still less than 100 calories, which is still a solid move. Incorporating eggs into your diet can prove to be quite helpful, a combination of both filling and low calorie.
I touched on this a little when I was talking about the yolk in the egg. The nutrients in an egg are worth talking about. Most of them may be in the yolk, but the list is pretty bulky. With a total of 13 essential vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin D, A, B12, and Phosphorus, it’s incredible to think that all that is just in 75 calories. Eggs also contain the nutrient choline, essential for the functioning of all cells. Eggs are quite the nutrition bomb, let me tell you.
Cons Of Egg Protein
Now that we’ve discussed the glorious things eggs are known for, it’s time to discuss the things eggs lack or can be harmful to. There are one or two things eggs are known to cause harm to our bodies. When eating eggs, it’s important to keep these two things in mind.
High in Cholesterol
The con that is most known for with eggs is its cholesterol amount. In one large egg, there’s about 186mg of cholesterol. Let’s put that in perspective. Per day, people should be eating no more than 300mg of cholesterol, a little less if you’re at risk for heart disease. About two or three eggs can add up to complete the amount of cholesterol you should be eating in a day. That’s a lot of cholesterol for something quite tiny like an egg. What happens if you overeat cholesterol?
Well, consuming too much cholesterol can prove to be quite dangerous for our hearts. High-cholesterol may leave fat deposits in our blood vessels, which make it hard for blood to reach the arteries in our heart. This may potentially lead to heart disease and or heart attack, things that can be passed down to our next generations. This isn’t to say we must stay away from cholesterol completely, it’s still essential to our bodies. It helps our body build healthy cells and hormones.
This con partakes to just a particular type of egg, the organic eggs. What separates the organic egg with any other kind of egg is the way the eggs are grown. A typical conventional egg has chickens in caged environments pumped with growth hormones to lay more giant eggs. An organic egg has chickens roam around in a cage-free environment without being pumped with GMOs. When hearing, you’re probably thinking, “how could that be a bad thing, it’s making chickens live in a better space.”
Well, for the consumer like you and I, the price of an organic egg can be up to $4 more than your regular egg. That may or may not move eggs out of your foods for an idea of a low budget diet. Not only is the price a problem, but the safety of the egg itself can pose a threat to you. In 2018, about 200 million were recalled due to being contaminated with salmonella. Unlike organic eggs, regular eggs are cleaned and made sure to be safe for consumption by manufacturers. Organic eggs more or less skip this and could be seen as a problem by consumers.
Egg Protein Supplements
Since this is a site dedicated to protein supplementation, it makes sense to talk about the protein powders made of eggs. Yes, you heard that right, protein powder made from eggs. Now, it may not taste like eggs, but it contains all the nutrients we discussed that eggs are jammed packed with. Manufacturers only thought it was right to use a source that has tons of protein as it is, and turn it into a protein powder for people to drink.
Then again, since it contains mostly everything from an egg, it’s still going to include the high amounts of cholesterol found in eggs. This may be something you think about when purchasing a protein supplement made from eggs. If heart disease runs in your family, or if you just want to keep caution. I have an entire article dedicated to what egg protein powder is, and I’ll leave a link to it right here.
In conclusion, are eggs a good source of protein? I’ll let you decide. I know that may seem pretty clique of me, but it really does come down to a matter of preference. You’ve seen and absorbed all the information about the pros and cons of egg protein, and now you can use it to decide for yourself. If you’re trying to steer away from high cholesterol foods, it’s better to not eat eggs. If you’re looking for high-quality protein, then eggs maybe just for you. I personally love me some scrambled eggs, so much that is, I’m off to make some right now.
Got any questions? Leave them down below, along with any comments you may have!